Thursday, May 10, 2007

Peak Oil: Meet Saskatchewan Oil Sands

Alberta does not have all the oil sands in Canada. Saskatchewan comes in for her fair share.
Industry and Resources Minister Eric Cline is hoping new regulations that came into effect Monday will encourage more exploration of Saskatchewan's oilsands and oil shale resources.

"If we had more companies operating up there ... then that would dramatically alter the situation,'' Cline said Monday.

The new regulations have been developed after consultation with the industry and other jurisdictions, and are an update of regulations approved over 40 years ago.

....Oilsands were identified in the province in the 1970s in an area north of the Primrose Lake Air Weapons Range, but there has been limited interest until the last few years.

Exploration for oil shales in the Hudson Bay area of the province was conducted 40 years ago, and the area has seen renewed exploration by industry recently.

Meanwhile, the first company to explore and develop oilsands resources in northwestern Saskatchewan in 40 years is stepping up development of its Axe Lake discovery, near La Loche.

Meanwhile, several giant oil sands development projects are getting started in Alberta.
This summer, as many as 7,000 construction workers will be on the site of Canadian Natural Resources Ltd.'s Horizon project, which features an oil sands mine and upgrader north of Fort McMurray. The expansion of Royal Dutch Shell PLC's Athabasca mine and its Scotford upgrader near Edmonton employ about 2,000 workers right now, with a peak of more than 6,000 next year.

An upgrader is a sprawling industrial facility where bitumen, a mixture of sand and oil, is put through searing processes where the sand is stripped away from the oil and the low-grade crude is upgraded into synthetic oil. Total plans to use a method that's called delayed coking, a widely employed and proven process.

Skilled construction workers such as welders, ironworkers, electricians, pipefitters, millwrights, and other skilled workers will be getting paid a lot of money in various oil sands, shale oil, and coal projects over the next two or three decades. After 20 to 30 years, I suspect the transportation industry will be using more biofuels and electrical energy than fossil fuels.

If you know a poverty stricken English or History major working for minimum wage and struggling to make payments, you might tip them off--tell them to learn a useful trade!

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